ADDIS ABEBA – National Electoral Board of Ethiopia on Wednesday dismissed opposition parties claim that no discussion has been held over the newly approved electoral law.
Birtukan Mideksa, chairperson of the board, said at least three discussions had been held before its approval.
Lawmakers approved the revised law unanimously on August 24 paving the way for national elections next year.
Birtukan said the board’s duty now is to implement the law and political parties also have the right to claim for further discussion.
But there no point “to deny that there were no discussions” over the revised law, she said.
Within the NEBE’S capacity though and if possible, Birtukan said “we will try to answer some of their concerns through directives” which will be drafted by the board soon.
Opposition parties say the latest changes to the election law in parliament, where the ruling party holds all the seats, will make it more difficult for them.
One of the amendments raised the number of signatures to register a national party to 10,000, up from 1,500. Regional parties will need 4,000 signatures, up from 750.
The opposition was also unhappy at another change requiring civil servants running for office to take leave without pay.
“The law was approved in a rush without addressing our demands,” said Girma Bekele, vice chairman of the Joint Council of Political Parties representing 107 parties including the ruling coalition, told reporters recently.
NEBE Chairperson said the board is currently preparing detailed operational plans to conduct fair, free and democratic election next year.
At least 50 million voters are expected to take part in the election.
There have been regular parliamentary elections since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power in 1991 but, with one exception, none were competitive.
According to Birtukan, adequate preparations are underway to get quality data to determine the number of observers while
The board will recruit professionals for regional offices with the standard and criteria set to select the board management members, she said.
The board will look for individuals who are not a member of any political party and a bachelor degree holder in law, political science public administration and related field fields.